When it’s better for everyone, it’s better for everyone. Eleanor Roosevelt
After my conversation with Tapoka, I’m better able to understand an earlier discussion with Maria (Duque), whom as you might recall also works with Trichuris trichiura, aka the whipworm. Duque explained When the eggs arrive in the caecum, they hatch in a process that is dependent on microbiota. We can recreate this in the lab by incubating T.muris eggs (blue) ↓ with Escherichia coli (yellow). My PhD student, Tapoka Mkandawire, is investigating how this happens.
It looks like the bacteria aggregates around a region of the egg called polar plug. Then, the polar plug is dissolved and the larvae that is inside comes out.
When the eggs arrive in the caecum, they hatch in a process that is dependent on microbiota.
While I absolutely love the blue stain in the scientific photograph, in keeping with the bigger picture of this series, I use vermillion and sienna, part of the unifying palette.
Tapoka and I continue our conversation about bacteria in the human intestine. She explains a crosstalk of sorts, that goes on between worm and bacteria, resulting in infection. I listen for the various things I’ve learned about other bugs, that have to come into play, like temperature and oxygen.
She returns to explaining DNA sequencing of the many species of bacteria in the intestine. It’s like a picture box. We’re going to put this all together because we have so much information. All the pieces of the puzzle will come together!
Of course a puzzle ↓ element surfaces. #PoopSample #InformationGathers
Curious, I ask Tapoka a final question: It just feels to me like the potential for serious disease is always present with whipworms. What purpose do they serve, if any, in the human gut?
They do cause serious illness when you have an acute infection (high numbers of worms), and it is not good for children in particular under 5 as it has an impact on nutrition and development. However the flip side is that parasites like the whipworm are really good at sending signals to our immune system. We hope in the future to be able to use these signals to help people with auto immune diseases; starting with those in the gut like Celiac and Irritable Bowel.
Tapoka sends video. One is eggs and hatched larvae (very clean). She likes that it appears the worm is waving hello. I appreciate her light-hearted nature.
And this post will end with Tapoka’s take on Eleanor’s words: It doesn’t get better for everyone until it gets better for everyone.
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